‘Jeopardy!’ Just Passed ’60 Minutes’ to Become the Most-Watched Non-Sports Show on TV

·3 min read
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tony maglio ratings report banner

“Jeopardy!” is in no ratings jeopardy at all, 14 months after the passing of the syndicated show’s longtime and beloved host Alex Trebek.

Over the week of Dec. 27, 2021-Jan. 2, 2021, the Sony quiz show surpassed CBS’ stalwart newsmagazine “60 Minutes” to become the most-watched non-sports program on TV, according to Nielsen numbers reported earlier this week. It’s not just the first time this season that has happened, it’s the first time in at least three decades.

Season to date (Sept. 13, 2021-Jan. 2, 2022), “Jeopardy!” is averaging 9.2 million total viewers, according to Nielsen’s Live + Same Day numbers. That’s the most on broadcast or cable, including shows beyond syndication (excluding sports). And it’s just ahead of “60 Minutes,” which has averaged 9.1 million total viewers this season.

No. 3 on TV is ABC’s World News Tonight (8.2 million total viewers), Paramount Network’s “Yellowstone” (7.9 million total viewers) and CBS’ “NCIS” (7.7 million total viewers).

There is an argument here against comparing a show like “Jeopardy!,” which by the nature of syndication airs on different stations and at different times in different markets vs. a traditional TV show that adds on one network at one time.

It’d also be fair to argue that “live” viewing disproportionately benefits a daily game show as opposed to a weekly drama (or to a slightly lesser extent, a weekly newsmagazine program). That’s true, but you could also argue that “60 Minutes” often benefits from an NFL lead-in for East Coasters. So some of these comparisons are admittedly somewhere between apples to oranges and just apples to different kinds of apples.

Anyway, “Jeopardy!” is up 7% this season, or +587,000 viewers each evening, compared to last season.

So what pushed “Jeopardy!” over the top? The week of Dec. 27, 2021, the game show enjoyed 9.7 million total viewers per episode, up 12% (or 1 million viewers) from the same week one year ago. Credit Amy Schneider, the running champion whose winning streak of 23 days has brought it another 238,000 viewers (+3%) per show.

As 2021 gave way to 2022, Schneider’s winnings totaled $855,600. Schneider, who is the show’s first transgender contestant to qualify for its prestigious Tournament of Champions, has since surpassed $1 million in winnings, becoming only the fourth contestant in history to do so. She is the first woman to top a million bucks.

On Dec. 31, 2021, Schneider broke “Jeopardy!” records to become the female contestant with the greatest number of consecutive wins. The Schneider streak is helping fans forget all about that Mike Richards stuff. Sort of.

Ken Jennings’ 74-game streak ended with $2,520,700. James Holzhauer walked away with $2,462,216 after 32 victories. And most recently, Ph.D. student Matt Amodio won $1,518,601 over the course of his 38-game streak last year.

As of Friday, Schneider was still going strong — and so is “Jeopardy!”